Skip to main content


Showing posts from June 29, 2003
Bollettino LI has been in a long and winding correspondance with an ardent supporter of the Iraq War. We spent a lot of time proposing and dissing each others analogies. Is the occupation of Iraq like the occupation of Germany and Japan, after WWII? Or is it like Vietnam? Etc. Now, LI has a rule about history: there are no lessons in history. This is a rule we violate, for rhetorical reasons, all of the time. However, in calmer moments, we realize that the lesson metaphor is horribly overdetermined, and structurally suspect. For one thing, it implies a control, both conceptual and organizational, over history that doesn't and can't exist. Or at least it requires a belief in a trans-historical agency that needs to be established first. Such an agency could make history as a form of lesson, although it is unclear what that lesson would be about. A lesson is made around a subject, while history is made as history -- as the synthesis of the variously satisfactory enactments
Bollettino CNN has a very confusing report on casualties this morning. Bush's wish for "them" to "bring em on" was granted, to the extent of a number of attacks that wounded 10 American troops. A marine was killed clearing mines, and a soldier died of the wounds received from the attack yesterday that injured six. Or so we presume -- the soldier's death is extremely under-reported. On another front -- LI wrote a post last week about the suspicious nature of the "accidents" that are killing American soldiers in Iraq. Here's a story from Maine that will get no play in the national press, which goes along, and goes along: "ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE -- Sen. Susan Collins says the army has assured her it will conduct a full investigation into the death of First Sergeant Christopher Coffin, a reservist from Kennebunk. The senator just returned from a tour of Iraq herself and spoke with NewsRadio WMTW's Bob Dyk. In the interview
Bollettino We have to recommend this fascinating article on Qaddafi's daughter, the Libyan "Claudia Shiffer" Aisha al Qaddafi. It asks questions that Middle Eastern journalists are eager to ask, but can't in the press. As, for instance, where does Qaddafi's daughter come up with the dough to afford perpetual stays in elite London Hotels, where the going rate is $2200 a night? Not surprisingly, as Aisha subsists on ye olde service and the best scotches Claridge's can come up with, she is also a great one for expressing solidarity with the downtrodden. She nearly bleeds -- or at least sweats -- for the Palestinian people, to whom she has recommended jihad. I'm sure they are much obliged. And now for the Casualty report: here's the insufferable W. rallying the home troops, and incidentally supplying just the rationale that insurgents will use to kill American soldiers: ``There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such
Bollettino When LI lived in Santa Fe, we attended a number of parties organized by an art dealer. Actually, in Santa Fe, it is almost impossible to avoid parties organized by an art dealer of some type. You will be walking along, innocently enough, and suddenly you will be engulfed by rich Texas couples and amply funded California divorcees clamoring for a "purplish" picture to hang in the solarium. It is that kind of town. These parties had a debilitating effect on my morale. I had hung with the wealthy before; I'd read Architectural Digest in their bathrooms; I'd talked to their almost always ancient maids, although I can't say I talked to them much. The maids eyed me with justified suspicion. No matter - I liked em. In my experience, wealth had had a gentle, softening effect upon people -- like some purling current of water, gradually brightening and shaping a bed of pebbles. That was my feeling until I encountered the the crowds that gathered, like s
LI, the loafs and the fishes Well, it is day five. LI went and sold fifty dollars worth of books on Thursday. We've been living on it since. We are now down to five dollars. What do you get for five dollars? We went to the grocery store and looked around. The meat was out of the question. What about cheese? Cheese would take up half of the sum. Now, you can nibble on cheese and survive several days, supposedly. Haven't we read that in the journal of some South Pole explorer? But our mouth revolted at the all cheese regime. Hmm. So we chose two dollars worth of coffee, and a dollar forty loaf of bread. Extravagant, that bread. Tonight, we are going to face up to the loss of alcohol -- although I can hear our friend David urging the beer. And tomorrow, maybe there will be a check in the mail. Although at this point, we've rather lost hope. Our bet -- another notice for electric bill due tomorrow. That will be the killer. This is going to be the worst summer of
Bollettino Casualty report: The sweeps in Iraq have been so successful that the Americans have arrested a colonel. At this rate, in another, say, one hundred years we might imprison the whole of the Iraqi officer corps. That has the advantage of giving us a political corps, since Americans are also appointing former Ba'athist military guys to ruling positions in Iraqi cities, and blocking elections. The NYT (AP) issues this report: "Rocket-propelled grenades slammed into U.S. military vehicles in two attacks in and around Baghdad on Tuesday, and an explosion at a mosque in the town of Fallujah killed 10 Iraqis and injured four others . Meanwhile, unidentified assailants in a pickup truck gunned down the head of Saddam Hussein's tribe while he was riding in a car in the former dictator's hometown of Tikrit, the local governor said Tuesday. " According to the Middle East news , the attack in Baghdad is worse than Cencom is yet willing to affirm: &q
Bollettino Various A little self-promoting here: LI has a review of Houellebecq's latest novel at the Chicago Sun-Times site, and a review of a Robert E. Lee biography at the San Antonio News Express site. Casualty report: " An Australian working as a sound man for NBC News was injured in Iraq when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a US military vehicle in the restive town of Fallujah. Three Iraqis were killed in the incident when their pick-up truck slammed into a vehicle helping to evacuate the sound man, the US military said yesterday." And this, from Reuters: "At least 30 Iraqis were killed and scores injured on Saturday when an ammunition dump they were looting blew up, residents said on Monday.They said U.S. forces arrested several looters after the blast at the ammunition dump in a desert area north of the town of Haditha, 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad." LI has never lived in a neighborhood with an ammunition
Bollettino If this report is true, it would certainly cause a minor meltdown in D.C. According to the Asia Times , the US is seeking to negotiate with the Taleban. The report claims that the US has even tried to find acceptable Taleban leadership: "The hard truth is that US intelligence simply does not really know what is going on in the Taliban and al-Qaeda camps. This is evidenced by the countless raids that have been launched in recent times, none of which have resulted in the capture of anyone in Afghanistan. In an effort to find a breakthrough, US authorities recently made two initiatives involving the Taliban. (See US turns to the Taliban, June 14) In the first, they tried to establish a new Taliban leadership through Mullah Ghous and other Taliban leaders who were expelled during Taliban rule from 1996-2001. This failed virtually before it was born. A second attempt was then made to forge contacts with "real" Taliban, with the idea being that they prov
Bollettino The hawks have been saying, for months, that reconstruction is on schedule. That it is moving forward. That things are getting better in Iraq. What we need to test these propositions is some comparison. A nice one is with the reconstruction that happened after 1991. In 1991, the Iraqi infrastructure was much more damaged than it was this last April. Yet, as has been pointed out by Iraqis, the electricity came on-line quicker under Saddam : "After security, one of the most common complaints of postwar Baghdad residents has been unreliable electricity. "Why is the electricity only on eight hours a day?" one resident asked last week. "In 1991, Saddam had the electricity on sooner than this, and all the power stations were bombed." Another two enlightening grafs from the same article: "In 1991, the damage was much greater because the damage was concentrated not only on the substations but the power stations," said Adn